Historians converge on Durban for conference

2011-06-21 00:00

LOCAL and international historians will converge on Durban for the biennial conference of the Southern African Historical Society (SAHS), running from June 27 to June 29.

The theme of the conference is entitled, “The Past and its Possibilities: Perspectives of Southern Africa”.

Not only politicians battle over versions of historical truth, but so do academic historians. For them the past is never a settled “fact” and heated debates over evidence and interpretation are a feature of the discipline.

Hosted by the history department at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the conference will see over 180 historians presenting their research.

Almost half of the papers will be presented by postgraduate students.

Said Julie Parle, UKZN associate professor and SAHS president, “We have wanted this professional organisation to be studentfriendly and to contribute to the regional growth of history as an academic discipline,”

“We were able to offer financial assistance to regionally based students to attend the conference and, breaking with convention, decided we wanted a postgraduate student to give a keynote address.

“The future of the discipline is with students,” she added.

The conference will feature two keynote addresses, one by Professor Antoinette Burton, who teaches at the University of Illinois in the United States, who will speak on “ Race and the Politics of Position: Above and Below in Frank Moraes’s The Importance of Being Black (1965)”.

Yale postgraduate student and well-known South African journalist Jacob Dlamini, who wrote the award-winning book Native Nostalgia, will deliver an address entitled “After the Romance, Tragedy? Rethinking South Africa’s National Liberation Struggle”.

The conference will be the occasion of the Durban launch of Magema Fuze: The Making of a Kholwa Intellectual by Hlonipha Mokoena, who lectures at Columbia University in New York. It is published by UKZN Press.

For more details, e-mail SAHS executive secretary Thembisa Waetjen at waetjent1@ukzn.ac.za or call 031 260 2534.

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